What is an Herbalist?

Herbalists specialize in the field of herbal medicine. They know how to use different herbs to promote wellness, to treat illness, and prevent disease.

An herbalist comes in many forms and they hold several different titles:

  • Registered Herbalist
  • Master Herbalist
  • Herbal Practitioner
  • Licensed Herbalist

Herbalists know plants very well. They delight in telling stories about the living conditions in which they thrive. You may be telling them about a headache or allergies and their eyes light up. They go on and on about different herbs you have never heard of. They describe how to slice and pound and boil the root of an herb to make a poultice out of it. They claim it will take all of your nasty symptoms away. But only if you apply it or take it four times a day.

I’m joking, somewhat. Most of us have heard of echinesea, it helps to prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms, as well as all illnesses by boosting the immune system. You don’t need to be an herbalist or go to one to find this remedy. Echinesea comes in tincture and capsule form and is sold at all grocery stores and pharmacists.

So, why would you go to see an herbalist? Can’t you just google herbal remedies for your symptoms? Sure, you can do this. However, only someone who has studied herbs intensely can give you a full picture of which herbs can be combined together to treat you. You are a unique person with your own health picture. An herbalist will take your history as well as your symptoms into play when deciding on the best treatment for you.

A Registered Herbalist has completed at least four years of academic and clinical training. They have put in at least 400 hours of experience with at least 100 patients. To become a Master Herbalist, the American Herbalists Guild recommends a program of at least 1600 hours of study at a school of herbal medicine, including a 400-hour clinical requirement.

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Herbs come in many different forms:

  • Powder
  • Root
  • Dried
  • Tincture with vegetable glycerin or alcohol
  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Teas
  • Salves

Your herbalist may make her own or teach you how to make them yourself. Some teas are best made with the fresh or dried leaves and some with the root. Some are the most potent by steeping and others need to be boiled. I have made tinctures and herbal salves and I have mixed dried herbs for unique blends of tea. I find that when I take part in the creation of herbal remedies, they are more potent. I am inserting my intention into each batch and that matters.

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My best friend is an herbalist. Many years ago, when I was really sick with a sinus infection, she brought me a tall mason jar full of warm tea. She left it on my porch so she wouldn’t be exposed to my germs! It had big chunks of ginger root and garlic floating in it. There was cayenne pepper, honey, and so much lemon. It was warm and strong and amazing. It was a strong tea and it cleared out my sinus’s.

When you have an appointment with a wholistic practitioner who is trained in herbs, part of your treatment is sharing about your symptoms, being listened to, and emphasized with. Having someone care for you is healing on its own! They will then diagnose or suggest a few ailments you are likely to have before prescribing. They may sell their own potions that they make themselves. They may sell herbs from a distributer. They may recommend remedies that you can purchase yourself.

When I follow an herbal prescription from a trusted practitioner, I believe I am going to get well. I don’t care if it tastes bad or takes a long time to prepare. I want to be well and I follow their recommendations. I know they will check up on me and therefore I will be held accountable for my actions. The owner of You, Me, and Uni is a Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht. She has two tea blends currently on the market (Meditative State of Mind & Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut) and both of them taste delicious!

There are several wholistic practitioners who are also trained in herbalism and they incorporate herbal remedies into their practice with their clients.

  • Acupuncturist
  • Chinese Medicine Doctor
  • Naturopathic Doctor
  • Chiropractor
  • Homeopath
  • Licensed Midwives

When you see a practitioner other than a master herbalist, know that their scope of knowledge on plants and herbs will differ depending on their training and experience over the years.

When I see my acupuncturist there are many ways that she will treat me with herbs. She may sell me a bag of dried herbs- a special combination she prepared for me. She will tell me how long to cook or steep it and how often to drink it. She may sell me a tincture and all I need to do is take it straight or in water (which dilutes the strong flavor). Sometimes she makes me a special blend of Bach Flower Remedies or an essential oil blend, curated especially for me. An Acupuncturist can treat your immediate symptoms and ailments, as well as addressing long term symptoms and underlying health conditions.

As a Licensed Midwife, I recommended herbs and natural remedies to my clients on a daily basis. Nipple herbal salves help soothe new breast-feeding mothers. Garlic, in large doses, clears up and prevent Herpes outbreaks. Hawthorne helps by lowering blood pressure.

Homeopathy is a form of diluted herbs that are safe and powerful for adults and children. They are comprised of natural substances such as plants, herbs, and minerals, which are used to stimulate the healing process. They come in the form of tiny pellets, which dissolve under the tongue or can be applied to water. They also come in gels and creams which help with achy muscles, such as arnica. A homeopathy practitioner will take a thorough history and ask a series of questions about your likes and dislikes to get an accurate picture of your overall health, as well as your symptoms.

A Naturopathic Physician must complete a bachelor’s degree as well as a 4-year Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) program. A Naturopath focuses on using natural remedies by incorporating a variety of healing modalities. They recommend such practices as acupuncture, chiropractic care, nutrition, exercise habits, herbs, and massage. They take additional trainings in herbalism and are well qualified to treat you with a variety of herbal remedies, depending on your diagnosis and symptoms.

When you are wanting a more natural approach with your healthcare, consider an herbalist or wholistic practitioner who will guide you to the herbs that are best suited for you. I will end with a quote from my best friend, the Master Herbalist.

“The delight of being an herbalist does not only include witnessing the ability of the plants to help folks heal when they are ill. Working alongside these green beings also includes the beauty of alchemy. As one gathers the plants from the earth, adds the appropriate menstruum and allows the elementals to transform these herbs into colorful teas, potent tinctures, or any number of other applications, herbalism becomes a vocation of relationship.”

Sabrina Lutes, Herbalist & Certified Women’s Herbal Educator in Candler, NC

Anastacia Elizabeth Walden

Gainesville, Florida




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